Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Brown's community police pledge

Gordon Brown
Last year Labour performed poorly in local elections

Gordon Brown has launched Labour's campaign for the May local elections, pledging to increase high visibility policing and improve public services

More than 4,000 seats will be contested in England and Wales during the elections, along with London's mayoral contest and the London assembly.

The Tories, yet to officially launch their campaign, are ahead in the London mayoral race, opinion polls suggest.

The seats being contested this year were last fought in 2004.

The prime minister will hope to win back some of the seats and councils lost by Labour.

Police mobile numbers

Mr Brown highlighted community policing as a key theme of Labour's local election campaign during a launch in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

"Every community of the country is going to have neighbourhood policing with police to call upon, with their mobile phone number available, be able to put a face on the person, be able to call them up and have local meetings to discuss the local issues you're concerned about," he said.

Restorative justice will deliver benefits for people in London who are fed up with a minority of kids acting up on buses, causing fear and apprehension
Boris Johnson
Tory mayoral candidate

"That will lead to neighbourhood contracts, where local residents and police come together to decide 'here are the priorities, this is what we've got to do, this is how we can make it a safer place'."

In London, Ken Livingstone, who is seeking his third term as mayor, launched his environmental manifesto with a pledge to make the capital "one of the greenest cities in the world".

He restated his proposal to bring in a 25 a day charge on "gas guzzling" cars in the congestion zone.

He said he would also extend the low emission zone charge for polluting lorries, buses and coaches to include all lorries over 3.5 tonnes from July 2008, and the heaviest vans from 2010.

Meanwhile, Conservative mayoral candidate Boris Johnson launched a scheme to use restorative justice to deal with teenagers who misbehave on London's public transport system.

Crime cutting pledge

Under his "Payback London" policy, youngsters who behave badly on buses would have their free travel passes - given to under-18s - withdrawn.

They would have to undertake unpaid work such as cleaning graffiti to earn their passes back.

Mr Johnson said the move was a way of reconnecting teenagers' rights to free travel in London with their responsibility to behave.

"It's a good liberal principle of restorative justice and it will deliver benefits for people in London who are fed up with a minority of kids acting up on buses, causing fear and apprehension," he said.

Former Metropolitan Police commander Brian Paddick, the Lib Dems' mayoral candidate, has pledged to cut crime by 20 per cent in four years.

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